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article imageCan aspirin reduce cancer risk?

By Tim Sandle     Mar 9, 2016 in Health
Aspirin, one of the longest established pain relievers, may help to lower the risk of certain cancers, according to a new study.
The new supporting data comes from a review of two long-standing epidemiologic studies. Both exercises have indicated that regular use of aspirin reduces the overall risk of certain forms of cancer. The effects were seen with colorectal cancer and other tumors of the gastrointestinal tract. The studies were conducted at Harvard Medical School.
The studies represented over 30 years of data relating to some 136,000 people. The data was data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
The findings showed those who took aspirin regularly had a 3 percent absolute lower risk of any type of cancer forming compared within those who did not take the drug regularly. Specifically, the research found aspirin use reduced the risk of colorectal cancer by 19 percent and the risk of any gastrointestinal cancer by 15 percent. There was no effect with any other type of cancer (such as breast cancer.)
Thus the data suggests aspirin, if taken regularly, could prevent a significant number of colorectal cancers. Five years of regular use was required for any noticeable affect to be seen. Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) is a salicylate medication. It is classed as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
Speaking with the website Bioscience Technology, lead researcher Professor Andrew Chan stated: “We now can recommend that many individuals consider taking aspirin to reduce their risk of colorectal cancer — particularly those with other reasons for regular use, such as heart disease prevention.”
Importantly, the research findings do not say aspirin alone is a "cure" for cancer. The studies are about the taking of aspirin in addition to other, lifestyle factors. In addition, the taking of aspirin does not negate the need to having regular check-ups and tests like a colonoscopy, for at risk groups. There are also risks with taking aspirin arising from bleeding in the stomach, and advice from a healthcare professional should always be sought before taking a drug substance on a regular basis.
The research is published in the journal JAMA Oncology. The paper is titled “Population-wide Impact of Long-term Use of Aspirin and the Risk for Cancer.”
In related news, a separate study, Cancer Research U.K. and the U.S. National Institute for Health Research, titled “Add-Aspirin phase III trial”, is also looking at the impact of aspirin on cancer rates.
More about aspirin and cancer, Aspirin, Cancer, Colon cancer
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